So I have a book recommendation for you. It’s called “Repenting of Religion: Turning from Judgment to the Love of God” by Gregory Boyd. It is a super-convicting book for Christians. The first half is about the ways in which we “get life” from judging one another, and how we tend to pick on the sins that Christians in mainstream churches as a whole don’t struggle with (like homosexuality) as opposed to the ones that lots of us struggle with (like gluttony). The book is really challenging on lots of levels, but the reason I mention it today is because in the middle part of the book he turns his attention to the ways we humans judge God and judge ourselves, and what he said hit us both like a ton of bricks as we realized that much of desire to “do” and “perform” and “measure up” and “strive” is rooted in an unhealthy and unholy desire to create our own worth, instead of living in the worth that we already have in Christ. Throughout the book, he uses the story of Adam and Eve eating from the forbidden tree as the foundation of his writing, and I wanted to share a few paragraphs from the middle section to illustrate this point:
“The serpent’s accusation that God isn’t a reliable source of life involved an accusation that God’s creatures weren’t adequately alive. The heart of the lie about us is that we humans are not okay simply living in union with God…We can, and we must, provide for ourselves…Believing a lie, we judge God to be untrustworthy or inadequate to fill us with life. Our judgment then blocks God’s fullness and makes us feel empty and on our own. Our emptiness in turn makes other things seem like viable candidates to fill us. Things like religion, sexual pleasure, fame, riches, and power take on an illusory god-like attractiveness to us when viewed with the hungry eyes of our vacuous souls…Just like Eve, we believe we can fill our emptiness by doing something and acquiring things. We believe we can give ourselves fulfilling worth apart from God by performing. We believe we can become self-sufficient through our efforts. We believe we can fix ourselves as well as other people.” (Excerpted from Chapter 8)
I don’t think any of us finally arrive at the place where this is no longer a struggle, even if we’ve been Christ followers for most of our lives! We each wrestle with this in some way. For us right now, it is probably this desire to be financially independent and self-sufficient. For you, it might be having picture perfect children and being a mother who always seems to have it together. Or it might be reaching for the next rung on the corporate ladder. Or it might be trying to get down to a Size 4. Or it might be sitting on the front row of church every Sunday and being admired as the model family. If we’re being honest, we’ll admit that just about anything can be an idol.
And to all of it, God says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10